Handout 1
Handout 1 -- Manage Anger and Gain Self-Control
We all have problems with people sometimes. However, not only does getting angry make
problems worse, but you will also suffer further distress in the bargain. So get smart and get in
control. Deal with conflict calmly and rationally. According to E. Dean Bevan of Baker University
in Kansas, here’s how:
1. Name and “own” the feeling. Admit it to yourself if you are angry—not “stressed” or “upset” or “depressed”. Don’t
say someone “made” you angry.
2. Be civil. Ironically we often treat strangers better than the people we know; so treat those closest to you at least as
well as you treat strangers.
3. Don’t raise your voice. Yelling at others does not release pressure, it adds to it, and it turns off the person with whom
you are trying to communicate. In a disagreement, remain calm and say, with a smile if possible, “I don’t agree.” If this
makes you feels odd, it doesn’t make you a phony. It takes some getting used to.
4. Don’t get physical. Acting out your anger (slamming doors, hitting) doesn’t quench the anger, but makes it leap to
another level.
5. Listen. Angry people tend to argue, usually pointlessly, with people they are around the most (friends and family). If
you are listening to people you should be able to repeat what they are saying.
6. Don’t exaggerate. Be specific about a problem you are trying to solve and the true frequency of its occurrence. Avoid
saying phrases like “I’ve told you a million times,” etc.
7. Avoid absolutes. See #6. If your disputant hears you saying he is “always” this or “never” that, what chance do you
think he/she’ll agree with you?
8. Stick to the facts. If you are upset about someone being inconsiderate or not inviting you along for lunch, say so (if
only to yourself). Don’t think, or say, something like, “you never think of me.” Name your feelings about the facts. For
example say: “You told a story about me to other people that embarrassed me.”
9. Don’t call names. This only produces more anger and makes it hard for the other person to back down. Once harsh
words leave your mouth, they can’t be taken back. Even after the argument or conflict is over, your relationship with the
person you called derogatory names will probably never be the same.
10. Don’t mock. What good can come of belittling someone by caricaturing his behavior or by using an exaggerated tone
to distort her words?
11. Memorize your escape. If an argument escalates and you feel you can’t continue calmly, smile and say, “Let’s stop
and talk about this another time.” Then stop talking and resist the temptation to have the final word.
12. Don’t take hostages. If someone wants to leave an argument, let him. Don’t block an exit.
13. Say “you may be right.” You may not believe it, but saying this sends the message that you have an open mind.
14. Don’t make major decisions when you’re angry. Making a decision to spite someone else will only hurt you. If
you’re upset, give yourself a few days before making any major decisions. Wait until you can rationally ask yourself how
you will benefit from your decision.
Good Ideas to Help Young People Develop Good Character
©2002 Josephson Institute of Ethics
Handout 1